UK tightens migration policy after Brexit

Construction workers on a railway site in London, February 11.
Construction workers on a railway site in London, February 11. JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP

It was one of the great promises of Brexit and one of the main reasons for the British vote to leave the European Union: reduce immigration, in particular the wave of Europeans who have settled there for fifteen 'years in the UK. On Wednesday February 19, the British government presented its plan to keep its word. He unveiled his new system, with the unambiguous goal: "Regain control of our borders" and "Reduce the level of immigration".

With the exit from the European Union, the United Kingdom puts an end to the free movement of European citizens, who represent around half of immigration across the Channel. With the new system, which is still to be debated in Parliament and which will only apply after the transition period, in principle from 1st in January 2021, "Europeans and non-Europeans will be treated equally". For EU tourists, this will not change anything: visiting the UK for up to six months can be visa-free.

For workers, on the other hand, a point system is set up in order to accommodate only "Those with the strongest skills and the best talents". To obtain a work permit, you will need to have a job offer before entering the UK, the qualifications required for your job and speak English. A minimum wage will be required, which will average around 25,600 pounds (30,610 euros) per year, but may fluctuate. For work in a job-shortage sector, the list of which is established by the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), a semi-independent committee, the required salary may drop to 20,480 pounds. On the other hand, for an experienced worker, the remuneration must be higher.

It will be prohibited to enter British territory with the status of autoentrepreneur (except in a few rare exceptional cases). This measure particularly targets the construction sector, where many workers, notably Poles and Romanians, are officially self-employed.

Profound impact

According to MAC calculations, all of these measures should have a profound impact: since 2004, 70% of European immigrants would not have obtained a work permit if these new rules had been in place. Europeans already settled in the United Kingdom are not affected by these measures, however, retaining their right to live and work in the United Kingdom. Only new arrivals will be affected. Family reunification, asylum and students are not affected by the new system.


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